Sunday, April 10, 2016

Beyond the Wall

Beyond the Wall aims to re-create the classic "first adventure" story of both classic fantasy stories and D&D games. A group of young and inexperienced people venture into the unknown and are tested and changed by the experience.

It's looking to recreate that level 1 or level 0 experience in a rules system that is similar to AD&D 1st edition or RedBox D&D. However in an acknowledgement of more modern designs it also aims to be zero prep. There is a collection of playbooks providing tables to roll up a background with attendant stat changes on top of the basic class templates.

Scenario packs build on top of this by providing a basic scenario structure with random elements to keep it fresh but within the theme chosen for the pack. These are quite neat structures for OSR play.

Beyond the Wall aims to deliver a low-key fantasy experience where the fantastic awes with both fear and astonishment. It roots the adventure experience in the character's life within a community and therefore tries to get that "there and back sensation".

I like a lot of things about what Beyond the Wall is trying to do but like a lot of OSR/nostalgia games it strands itself between the experience it is trying to create and the rules that it hopes will create that experience.

Since the game is really about low-level play you would expect the rule system to be simplified and focussed in equal measure. However it keeps multiple types of saving throws and the Base Attack Bonus vs. Armour Class combat that has generated so much inactivity for a lot of dice rolling.

It has a simple roll under a statistic system but then keeps random generation of statistics rather than linking them to the class archetype.

Magic is still presented as a massive list of spells to be selected from, rather contradicting the desire to restore the specialness of magic.

So ultimately I don't feel motivated to try playing this. For me it doesn't really present anything over Fighting Fantasy and Dragon Warriors if you want an authentic old-school experience or the Pathfinder or D&D beginner boxes if you want a simplified d20 experience.

I will be borrowing the ideas in the scenario packs for other situations however.


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